Before the start I made a short video of tacking practice. I still can’t get it right every time in the race (nearly capsized last week as you know) and there’s at least one dubious tack in the second video from the race. If anyone knows cheap (or even better free) software I can use to add a commentary to the video please let me know. For now you’ll have to do with words...
What I’m looking for in a tack.
· Making the boat turn easily – that means using the heel of the boat and sails to initiate the turn rather than putting the brakes on with the rudder.
· Turning exactly the right amount –I want to come out of the tack driving the boat back up to speed but without over-rotating giving ground to windward or under-rotating and unable to power up.
· Using the sail to help the turn and making the most of the roll as the tack is completed.
So roughly this is the sequence – try to spot these as I tack.
1. Add heel so the boat wants to luff
2. Allow the boat to start turning, easing a foot or so of main. (That spills the front a bit keeping the back setting and also helping turn to windward)
3. Start to bring the boat upright as it passes through the wind – that keeps the sail pulling as the boat turns (mast moving sideways through the air to generate airflow)
4. Flip extension over to new side – there’s a very small gap on my boat and a narrow timing window to do it. I tried to emphasise that in the later tacks.
5. Duck under boom and quickly jump to the new windward side (the speed of movement depends on the wind – in a blow I literally jump over, in light weather you have to wait for the turn to complete)
6. Start to bring the boat upright on the new tack –ease sheet a fraction more as the boat comes up because the mast moving sideways makes the wind flow quite free.
7. As the boat comes upright sheet in again to power up on the new tack.
The boat should drive straight forward with no change of direction after the tack.
So what happened in this week’s race. A decent turnout and Frank’s first outing of the new season –
4. Peter H
5. Peter C
7. Dave C
Unfortunately I forgot to start the camera for the start but Mark and I vied for the pin end. We both thought we were pretty close to the line but according to the RO we were OK. Before the start the wind had been shifting from starboard tack pointing at mark 5 to starboard almost laying 8. At the start it was nearer 5 again so my plan had been to start near the pin but tack at the first opportunity.
Mark was just to windward of me and there was no way I could tack until he did. Don’t quite know where but Mark definitely got the first few shifts slightly better than I did so that by the end of the beat he had about 5 lengths clear and I was similarly clear with Mervyn and Peter H very close. I started the camera on the run down to three. I’ve uploaded that run followed by the second beat (from 3 to 7). Down the run you can see I’ve got the kicker quite slack, windward heel and I’m trying to run deep when I get a gust to stay in the stronger wind longer, then rounding up slightly in the lulls. The hope downwind is of course to ride a gust and catch the boat in front or to block his wind. I wasn’t close enough to think about blanketing Mark but I could try to creep up by riding the gusts. The wind was shifting a lot so sometimes it was clearly a reach other times a dead run. Sheets in hand gives a better feel for the pressure watching the shroud tell tales for wind direction changes. At the leeward mark you can see Mark make a great rounding. He started slightly wide, cut up to the mark with heel on to help the turn then pulled the boat upright as he straightened up the beat (just like the end of a roll tack) and completed the sheeting in. I rounded up behind him but then broke tack on a small header. It rarely pays to tack right as you round up because you are turning the boat through 180 degrees and probably stopping any momentum gained in the round up. We played tacking the shifts for the first half of the beat. I think I was gaining a faction in the tacks. Generally I think I was going slightly quicker but Mark was pointing slightly higher. That meant I could not easily stay in a drag race behind him but had to make a couple of extra tacks to find my own track. There’s a nice part where we are parallel and you can see we are very evenly matched but I tack off on a slight header and manage to pull through to get clear water between us.
Compare my tacks in the heat of the race with the demonstration ones – they aren’t all as good.
Looking back Peter C seemed to recover from a bad first lap and was challenging Peter H at the finish while Mervyn pulled into a safe third. Frank followed ahead of Dave C who continues to improve and won the Saturday races yesterday.
I’ll be away next weekend so enjoy yourselves (and someone tell me what happened).
Ps Bonus footage of the first race on Sat showing Dave C starting behind the fleet but then powering through – next time don’t tack behind them, get to the line in front of them... Nice beating though, you can see how Dave is following the windshifts and generally keeping the boat fairly flat adjusting as gusts come and go.